by Neal Shusterman
review by Bronto Incognito
Age: Young Adult
Series: 1 of 4
Contains: swearing, death, terrorism, abortion issues
You see, a conflict always begins with an issue – a difference of opinion, an argument. But by the time it turns into a war, the issue doesn’t matter anymore, because now it’s about one thing and one thing only: how much each side hates the other.
Book-a-likes: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Partials by Dan Wells, The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
This one was a reread for me. I read it years ago, but this is one of those books that once you read it you’re not getting it out of your head. Like…ever.
Even still, I’ve made it one of my goals this year to finally get around to finishing the rest of the series (Unwind was a stand-alone when I first read it.) I even have all 3 of the other books signed and sitting on my shelf, but I wanted to refresh my memory before getting into everything else.
So, if you’ve somehow missed this one, here’s the basic rundown.
Second American Civil War was fought over abortion rights. The solution ended up being that you can’t touch human life from conception to age 13. Then, between the ages of 13 and 18 your parents (or the state if you’re a Ward) can choose to have you unwound. A process in which 99% of your body is transplanted into other people. See, you can’t be dead if you’re living in a “divided state”, right?
Our main cast is 3 people:
Connor: A bad, but not terrible kid whose parents have signed the papers to have him Unwound. But they’re also going to make themselves feel better about it by taking the family to Disney afterwards.
Risa: A Ward of the state. Unfortunately she’s just not good enough at piano for them to warrant keeping her alive. After all, there are resources that could be spent on other kids and people in need (and in want) of her parts.
Lev: The boy with creepiest story of them all. Lev is a Tithe, meaning his parents conceived him as their tenth child with the intent on having him unwound after his 13th birthday. Lev is not only okay with this situation, he embraces it. It is his purpose, his mission. He is at peace.
Their lives all collide on the way to the Harvest Camp, sending them on the run. The rest of the story explores how we as a society choose to value human life. Neal Shusterman doesn’t look at just one aspect of the right to choose. In fact he refuses to accept that it’s only a 2 sided issue. The kids go on a journey that explores not only the central arguments in this decades old fight, but also adoption, child abandonment, parental obligations, foster care…anything and everything you can imagine going into this kind of society. The book does not take direct sides, but asks the questions and lets the reader make their own choices.
The two creepiest things from this world are 1. The Clappers.
Clappers are terrorists with explosive blood. They have literally turned themselves into human bombs.
I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to spoil things…
2. The unwinding scene at the end. Trust me, it seems no one could possibly deserve this horrible fate more than _____. But going through the process with them is utterly horrifying. Don’t believe me, just watch this fan-made video of the unwinding process (not a specific one from the book, just a generic one). Also, there’s no blood or gore of any kind in this video, but that doesn’t make it any less disturbing…
Yeah…that’s a scene that’ll stick with you for a good long while…
So, now I’m onto book 2. I’d love to say I’ll have it finished by next week, but I’ve got a 2 month old now and she probably has other ideas….
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